We are roughly one month away from the National Hockey League's trade deadline for the 2020 NHL regular season and speculation regarding potential trades has picked up significantly. Pundits from around the league are weighing in on who they believe will be moved and where they believe those players will be moved to, and today we will be taking a look at one insider's predictions for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
In a recent article for The Athletic NHL insider Pierre LeBrun stated that he believes there are currently two trades being looked at by Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford. The first is one that will not be of great interest to us today and would merely involve Rutherford shipping out veteran forward Alex Galchenyuk, a player that has simply failed to fit in under Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan, for a draft pick. Galchenyuk's value is likely at an all time low at this stage of his career so what kind of return Rutherford could fetch in a deal of this nature remains to be seen. More interesting however were LeBrun's takes on what players Rutherford may be looking to add prior to the deadline in an effort to replace the production lost due to the injury to Penguins forward Jake Guentzel. LeBrun named 3 players he believes could be a fit for the Penguins and all 3 are players who could be available at the deadline.
#1 Jason Zucker.
Perhaps the most obvious choice given that Rutherford tried to acquire him in the summer of 2019, Zucker is currently playing for a Minnesota Wild team that is quickly seeing its playoff aspirations dry up. The Wild are 5 points away from claiming the final playoff spot currently held by the Las Vegas Golden Knights at the time of this writing and would have to leapfrog both the Winnipeg Jets and the Chicago Blackhawks just to get there, plus there may be several other factors at play here. Zucker was on his way to Pittsburgh and the Penguins this past summer prior to Phil Kessel nixing that trade in the butt so there is clearly interest here from the Penguins and Jim Rutherford of course has strong ties to Wild general manager Bill Guerin, who was recruited for the role by the Wild from the Penguins organization.
#2 Tomas Tatar.
He has been a very strong producer for the Montreal Canadiens and although he does earn $5.3 million per season his production as a member of the Habs has certainly justified those dollars. Tatar has the added benefit of having an additional year on his contract and could help replace some of the production lost in the Phil Kessel trade, something Alex Galchenyuk has failed to do. The biggest issue here is that LeBrun questions whether or not Habs general manager Marc Bergevin would be willing to part with Tatar given how well he has played this season.
#3 Tyler Toffoli.
A name that has been out there for weeks now, it seems inevitable that the Los Angeles Kings will eventually trade 27 year old Tyler Toffoli. The Kings are having another poor season and with Toffoli set to hit the open market at the end of the campaign he is your prototypical rental player ahead of the deadline. The deal would make sense for the Penguins to be sure, but no doubt there are many teams looking to Toffoli as a potential option if their plans don't materialize ahead of the deadline.